Unpacking Inner Landings

This section took me by surprise. The doors opened on the elevator and suddenly there was an incredibly boring office taking up the better part of the level. I guess sometimes even wonders can be boring. Let’s unpack.

Sheilak’s Departure

I’ve haven’t used Sheilak much as of late – the group’s arrival in The Ravine seemed to over-shadow the Guardian. I am actually working deliberately not to lean on her too much because her warnings of “danger” can get a little old. She’ll begin speaking more as the characters depart The Ravine, but until then it would be too easy to use her as a wise know-it-all and I’d like to spare her that fate.

I loved the idea of Sheilak getting to run off home before any of the other characters. The Guardians may seem very alien to humans, and they are, but they also love returning to familiar places just as we do. She’s reasonably certain Jeremy is safe, or she wouldn’t have departed, and will be back before too long. Wish her a happy visit!

The Bureaucracy

Here is yet another aspect of my personality which finds itself being poured into the world of The Valleys. My general attitude toward bureaucracy is very much level with Walter 1, I find it terribly dehumanizing. A bureaucracy reduces the world into the space of particular task, and in order for the world to remain stable the task must be done. The paperwork must be filed, the button must be pressed, the stamps applied. As long as that one task is being done it doesn’t matter if the rest of the universe is falling apart. As far as a bureaucrat is concerned their task is being done so the world must be ok. It’s what I call “the bureaucratic nightmare.”

And yet I find myself also nodding with Ama. A bureaucracy 2 can help form the types of stability a society needs in order to thrive. Road rules become standardized, money becomes agreed upon as a means of exchange 3, and regulations for health are established. I know many people who think they want anarchy because then they’d be “free.” But these are typically people who think clean drinking water appears by means of magic.

So the dehumanizing nightmare is real. Just look at the systemic racism in our civil policing, or the water situation in Flint, to see how dark the nightmare can become. But it’s potential benefits are equally real. In the end, I want to be the idealist Walter, but usually I’m really just confused Jeremy.

The Hall

The Government floor is the tallest of all the levels in The Ravine, probably the equivalent of six stories. The Hall is a five-story free standing building toward the South end of the level. It’s interior actually houses a huge auditorium, in which the congress of healers convenes once every year. The rest of the space is set up with offices for each of the healing orders.

The funny thing about this building is that my original intention was to make it the headquarters of the Guards. It is, in fact, why Michael was so distracted when Walter tried to engage him. As Jeremy spotted it, however, Ama quickly corrected my mistake and identified the building as the Hall of the Healers. So when she’s chuckling at Jeremy’s mis-identification, she’s really laughing at me.

It’s a very strange thing to have one of your characters laugh at you.

There’s actually a New Testament concept at play here. Paul says Satan masquerades as an “angel of light 4,” which is how Merkot is functioning in The Valleys.

Appearances can be deceiving.

  1. This is only partly because I can never remember how to spell the world. 
  2. I’m copying every use of this word. I’m not kidding when I say I can’t spell it. 
  3. And then burned away by investment banks, who hide behind the bureaucracy because they are “too big to fail.” 
  4. 2 Corinthians 11:14.